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Christmas by the numbers
Around 400 people dressed as Santa Claus arrive by train in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, on December 6.
December 24th, 2012
01:51 AM ET

Christmas by the numbers

By Amy Roberts, CNN

(CNN) - With Christmas comes Christmas trivia. Here's a look at the holiday by the numbers:

30.8 million – Real Christmas trees purchased in the United States in 2011.

16 - Percentage of real trees sold that were "cut-your own."

4.1% – Expected amount of increased holiday sales in the United States in 2012 over last year, according to the National Retail Federation.

586.1 billion – Amount of expected total sales, if they do increase by 4.1%.

FULL STORY
- A. Hawkins

Filed under: Christmas

soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. Reality

    X-mas, the embellished story of the birth of a simple, preacher man named Jesus.

    As per most contemporary NT exegetes, his parents were Mary and Joseph although some say Jesus was a mamzer, the result of a pre-marital relationship between Mary and a Roman soldier.

    http:// http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/theories.html

    Jesus was not born in Bethlehem at least the one we are familiar with and there were no pretty wingie thingies singing/talking from on high, no slaughter of the innocents by Herod, no visiting wise men and no escape to Egypt.

    "Mark's gospel, the most historical of the four gospels, does not even mention the event.

    And from Professor Gerd Ludemann in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, pp. 269-272, "The historical yield of the Lukan infancy narrative in respect to the birth of Jesus is virtually nil.

    Matt 1:18-25: , pp. 123-124, "The fathering of Jesus from the Holy Spirit and his birth from the virgin Mary are unhistorical". Ludemann gives a very detailed analysis to support his conclusions. One part being the lack of attestations to these events and the late time strata of said story.

    "Lüdemann [pp. 261-63) discounts Luke's account as a legend deriving from Jewish Hellenistic circles that were concerned to hold together the procreation of the Spirit, the authentic sonship of the Messiah and the virginal conception. "

    Then there are these additional conclusions:

    Professor Bruce Chilton

    "In [Rabbi Jesus: An Intimate Biography] (2000), Chilton develops the idea of Jesus as a mamzer; someone whose irregular birth circu-mstances result in their exclusion from full participation in the life of the community. He argues for the natural pa-ternity of Joseph and finds no need for a miraculous conception. In his subsequent reconstruction of Jesus' life, Chilton suggests that this sustained personal experience of exclusion played a major role in Jesus' self-ident-ity, his concept of God and his spiritual quest.

    Professor John Dominic Crossan

    "In [Historical Jesus] (p. 371) Crossan treats this cluster, like 007 Of Davids Lineage, as an example of the interplay of prophecy and history in the development of the Jesus traditions.

    "In [Birth of Christianity] (pp. 26-29) Crossan uses Luke's account of Jesus' conception and birth to explore ethical issues concerning the public interpretation of the past. He notes the tendency of Christian scholars to disregard "pagan" birth legends while investing great effort in the defence of biblical birth narratives. He concludes:

    I do not accept the divine conception of either Jesus or Augustus as factual history, but I believe that God is incarnate in the Jewish peasant poverty of Jesus and not in the Roman imperial power of Augustus. "

    "The following ancient parallels to Jesus' miraculous conception should be noted:

    Birth of Moses (Exod 2:1-10)
    Birth of Plato (Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers, 3.45) [see Acts of Jesus, p. 507]
    Birth of Alexander the Great (Plutarch, Parallel Lives, 2.1-3.5) [see Acts of Jesus, p. 502f]
    Birth of Apollonius (Philostratus, Life of Apollonius, I.4) [see Acts of Jesus, p. 505]"

    And some final words from Thomas Jefferson, not a contemporary NT scholar, but indeed a very learned man:

    "And the day will come,
    when the mystical generation of Jesus,
    by the Supreme Being as His Father,
    in the womb of a virgin,
    will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva”

    Letter to John Adams, from Monticello, April 11, 1823.

    Conclusion: X-mas is historically a non-event. Ditto for the Feast of the Magi and the solemnity of Mary aka New Years day.

    =============================================================================================

    December 14, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
  2. ttwp

    "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6

    December 25, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • Akira

      Also, a beautiful song from Handel's Messiah.
      I sang it.

      December 25, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
      • Fan2C

        Akira,
        "I sang it"

        So did I. Very stirring... even more so if you temporarily suspend disbelief and get into the mood of the story. We come back to reality, though. It's like watching cartoons or fantasy stories and briefly believing that ducks or horses can talk to get into the moment - we don't expect the next duck or horse that we see to start crac,king jokes, however!

        December 14, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
  3. Santa clausus

    Are multiple St. Nicks called St. Nikoluses or St. Nikoli?

    December 24, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
  4. Zales

    You have been weighed, America. And your obesity has tipped the scales of Justice to one side against you.

    December 24, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
  5. Zales

    It are those who say "Kill suspected terrorists" that defy God's will. (duh)

    December 24, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
  6. Zales

    Mom? I'm a congressman now. Do you really exoect for me to write-off your persobal debt? Ha ha! As you cheated on dad, no less? Get a clue you immoral najority of Americans. Your immorality will end your way if life. For your ways conflict with why it is that you came to be.
    fin

    December 24, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • Mrs. Pepperpot

      Hitting the egg nog a little hard, there, 'Zales/Oscar'? Your misspelled words are getting progressively worse.
      Cheers!

      December 24, 2012 at 11:21 pm |
  7. Zales

    Your children aren't going to ibnherit your debt! (as TV news reports) Your children whom you did NOT discipline have inherited your POWER, and little undisciplined brats that they are, will and are demanding that YOU pay for debt said to ne inherited by future geberations.
    Boo hoo grandma and mom&dad. It's YOUR debt. Pay or goto FEMA camp. :)

    December 24, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
  8. Zales

    You have raised-up for yourselves MDs who will prescribe whatever it is that you want, Religious Leaders who will tickle your ears for a price. This is what you have desired, and God has fulfilled your every desire. Just as you wish, die.

    December 24, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
  9. Zales

    Your own children are living-proof that you are POSs. Get a clue. Big monsters make little monsters. Prepare to be momstored by your own kids.

    December 24, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
  10. Zales

    You American "men" who think yiu have the right to pass-on your genes to the next generation...all the while thinking about cheating on the mother of your child...it is your defects that are passed-on..."inherited sins" of the next generation. You have only yourselves to thank for the goodness? of the world. Wtg you obese prescription writers, etc.

    December 24, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
  11. Oscar Schindler

    Yawn. You bore me you avg. "news blogger". Naptime

    December 24, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
  12. Oscar Schindler

    This is the message of the bible..."That all men might know that JEHOVAH art ruler over the earth.". (Psalm 83:18)
    OTHER bible writers refer to God as "Jehovah of armies", obviously showing God's armies vs. man's.
    A man ruling is what yiu have seen so-far. Do you require more of man's rukle before you fibally realize that man cannot dorect his own step? That freedoms allowed by men only lead to se xually transitted disease and financial ruin? Are you stupid?

    December 24, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
  13. Oscar Schindler

    Your false-temples where young Americans have been dragged will cease to exist. God Himself will and-is tearing down your false temples to the false god of war.
    You will come to know that the true God is NOT the god of national leaders like Obama that you now obey.
    Of course by-then it will have been too late. For you chose to spurn y words in favor of your false gods and fales religions The word 'religion' simply means "form of worship". Some of you Americans worship even sports and music idols so dumbed-down are you.

    December 24, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  14. felix navidad

    The fact that Christ has come is what is important not the exact calendar day.

    December 24, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  15. Oscar Schindler

    Why di you perpetuate the lie? Nowhere is the birthdate of Jesus Christ recorded. Not in your bible, and not in your history is the birthdate of Jesus Christ recoreded.
    Yet, here you christians are all happy and party on Dec. 25, the most pagan of all holidays throughout history. (The Pagan feast of the Saturnalia) You want a buddy Jesus who alllows you to be Roman in bed and elsewhere. That's all you want, america you ho.

    December 24, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  16. Oscar Schindler

    The celebration of December 25 dates nack tO ancient Babylon 3,500yrs ago. Men were living with their own mothers even after becoming adults, and burned Yule Logs and candles on evergreen trees drug-into their own homes.
    Yes, the Christmas tradition dates-back centuries before Jesus was ever born, and highlights people claiming to be "God's children" sacrificing their own children to ancient babylon's god of war, not the true God of war, Jehovah of armies. The one who will annialate you from off of this earth.

    December 24, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
  17. Mohammad A Dar

    99 % of atheists would give or receive gifts, during Christmas.

    December 24, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • tallulah13

      Mid-winter celebrations are far older than christianity. I feel no hypocrisy now that I am an atheist for celebrating a mid-winter day with my friends and family. It's a very human thing to do. As a child I loved receive presents, but as an adult I find that I prefer to give.

      December 25, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
  18. zoi

    Some children’s wish for Xmas is to live until then. Help them get a future. CARE n' SHARE!
    http://www.facebook.com/ScannCare

    December 24, 2012 at 10:27 am |
  19. Reality

    X-mas by contemporary NT scholars:

    X-mas, the embellished story of the birth of a simple, preacher man named Jesus.

    As per most contemporary NT exegetes, his parents were Mary and Joseph although some say Jesus was a mamzer, the result of a pre-marital relationship between Mary and a Roman soldier.

    http:// http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/theories.html

    Jesus was not born in Bethlehem at least the one we are familiar with and there were no pretty wingie thingies singing/talking from on high, no slaughter of the innocents by Herod, no visiting wise men and no escape to Egypt.

    "Mark's gospel, the most historical of the four gospels, does not even mention the event.

    And from Professor Gerd Ludemann in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, pp. 269-272, "The historical yield of the Lukan infancy narrative in respect to the birth of Jesus is virtually nil.

    Matt 1:18-25: , pp. 123-124, "The fathering of Jesus from the Holy Spirit and his birth from the virgin Mary are unhistorical". Ludemann gives a very detailed analysis to support his conclusions. One part being the lack of attestations to these events and the late time strata of said story.

    "Lüdemann [pp. 261-63) discounts Luke's account as a legend deriving from Jewish Hellenistic circles that were concerned to hold together the procreation of the Spirit, the authentic sonship of the Messiah and the virginal conception. "

    Then there are these additional conclusions:

    Professor Bruce Chilton

    "In [Rabbi Jesus: An Intimate Biography] (2000), Chilton develops the idea of Jesus as a mamzer; someone whose irregular birth circu-mstances result in their exclusion from full participation in the life of the community. He argues for the natural pa-ternity of Joseph and finds no need for a miraculous conception. In his subsequent reconstruction of Jesus' life, Chilton suggests that this sustained personal experience of exclusion played a major role in Jesus' self-ident-ity, his concept of God and his spiritual quest.

    Professor John Dominic Crossan

    "In [Historical Jesus] (p. 371) Crossan treats this cluster, like 007 Of Davids Lineage, as an example of the interplay of prophecy and history in the development of the Jesus traditions.

    "In [Birth of Christianity] (pp. 26-29) Crossan uses Luke's account of Jesus' conception and birth to explore ethical issues concerning the public interpretation of the past. He notes the tendency of Christian scholars to disregard "pagan" birth legends while investing great effort in the defence of biblical birth narratives. He concludes:

    I do not accept the divine conception of either Jesus or Augustus as factual history, but I believe that God is incarnate in the Jewish peasant poverty of Jesus and not in the Roman imperial power of Augustus. "

    "The following ancient parallels to Jesus' miraculous conception should be noted:

    Birth of Moses (Exod 2:1-10)
    Birth of Plato (Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers, 3.45) [see Acts of Jesus, p. 507]
    Birth of Alexander the Great (Plutarch, Parallel Lives, 2.1-3.5) [see Acts of Jesus, p. 502f]
    Birth of Apollonius (Philostratus, Life of Apollonius, I.4) [see Acts of Jesus, p. 505]"

    And some final words from Thomas Jefferson, not a contemporary NT scholar, but indeed a very learned man:

    "And the day will come,
    when the mystical generation of Jesus,
    by the Supreme Being as His Father,
    in the womb of a virgin,
    will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva”

    Letter to John Adams, from Monticello, April 11, 1823.

    Conclusion: X-mas is historically a non-event. Ditto for the Feast of the Magi and the solemnity of Mary aka New Years day.

    December 24, 2012 at 7:57 am |
    • christ_child1991

      you are right the gospel of mark does not have an account of the slaughter of king Herod but if you took the time to read and study the four gospels there are different events through out the gospels that are in one that are not in the others

      December 24, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • Reality

      JC's family and friends had it right 2000 years ago ( Mark 3: 21 "And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.")

      Said passage is one of the few judged to be authentic by most contemporary NT scholars. e.g. See Professor Ludemann's conclusion in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 24 and p. 694.

      Actually, Jesus was a bit "touched". After all he thought he spoke to Satan, thought he changed water into wine, thought he raised Lazarus from the dead etc. In today's world, said Jesus would be declared legally insane.

      Or did P, M, M, L and J simply make him into a first century magic-man via their epistles and gospels of semi-fiction? Many contemporary NT experts after thorough analyses of all the scriptures go with the latter magic-man conclusion with J's gospel being mostly fiction.

      Obviously, today's followers of Paul et al's "magic-man" are also a bit on the odd side believing in all the Christian mumbo jumbo about bodies resurrecting, and exorcisms, and miracles, and "magic-man atonement, and infallible, old, European/Utah white men, and 24/7 body/blood sacrifices followed by consumption of said sacrifices. Yummy!!!!

      So why do we really care what a first century CE, illiterate, long-dead, preacher/magic man would do or say?

      December 24, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • JohnQuest

      christ_child1991, Agreed, but what does that mean? Some stories are inconsistent from one gospel to another, how can anyone be sure which is correct (if two stories are mutually exclusive both CANNOT be right, both can be wrong however). Can you truly believe that the Bible is the unaltered word of an all knowing divine Deity if the writers can't get the facts straight?

      December 24, 2012 at 11:19 am |

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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.